RAMON Fernandez didn't play under the great coach Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan during his colorful playing career except for a single night 27 years ago.
And oh, how memorable the game turned out to be.
The first and only time Dalupan handled Fernandez came in the inaugural PBA All-Stars in 1989, which may well be remembered for the game-winning play that thawed the animosity between two icons of local basketball.
That play will forever be etched as the greatest in All-Star history, designed no less by Dalupan for Robert Jaworski to execute the inbound and pass the ball to Fernandez, who converted a reverse layup for a 132-130 win by the Veterans over the Rookies/Sophomores/Juniors.
“Definitely,” Fernandez shared to SPIN.ph on how unforgettable that night of June 4, 1989 was when he and Jaworski finally buried the hatchet after conniving to execute the game-winner for the Veterans.
“Right after Jaworski passed to me the ball in the last three seconds, I dribbled and went baseline, then na-shoot ko against Benjie Paras, so nanalo kami,” added the four-time PBA MVP, recalling the events as if it happened only yesterday.
What took place next was even larger than life.
Upon Dalupan’s prodding, Fernandez and Jaworski shook hands in the din of the pandemonium at the ULTRA (now Philsports Arena), a move that finally ended the feud between the former Toyota teammates.
“Ang unang ginawa ni coach Baby was to go to me. Kinuha niya ako, pumunta kami kay Jaworski at pinag-shake hands kami, kaya yung mga tao (sa coliseum) nag-sigawan,” said Fernandez, now a PSC commissioner. “Very memorable talaga.”
Here's a YouTube video of that iconic game-winning play:
If only for that one incident, Fernandez said he regretted not having played for Dalupan all the years that he was active on the court.
“He’s not called guru or maestro for nothing. I see in him as a good scout, good trainer, a good coach and a father to the team,” said Fernandez as he talked highly about the man generally considered as the greatest Philippine coach of all-time, who passed away last week at the age of 92.
“With these characters kaya napaka-successful niyang coach. All the necessary characters of a person needed in a coach nasa kanya na.”
Dalupan was laid to rest on Wednesday.